East Ham cancer project schoolgirls find out about early detection

A group of schoolgirls spent a day St Barts Hospital learning how to spot cancer early.

The 50 girls from Plashet School in East Ham were taking part in the NHS’ s Small c project which aims to rasie awareness about breast cancer among women by teaching schoolgirls who pass on vital information to their mothers.

The campaign aims to save thousands of lives annually through early detection by showing that most cancers can be successfully treated if caught when they are small and easier to treat. Research shows nine out of ten women with breast cancer survive providing it is diagnosed at an early stage.

The students learnt how to spot cancer with tools, including a chicken fillet stuffed with olives to replicate a breast lump.

They also saw the latest mammography, MRI and ultrasound equipment, used for diagnosing breast abnormalities in the state-of-the-art Barts Cancer Centre.

Barts Hospital Clinicial Nurse Specialist Anne Brewer said: “We want these 16-year-olds girls to spread the ‘small c’ message to friends, mums, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, stressing the importance of taking responsibility for checking their breasts and seeking immediate medical advice if they spot anything unusual.

“95% of the Plashet School’s pupils are Asian, and research has shown that women from this community, as well as many other communities in East London, have lower awareness of breast cancer symptoms than women from elsewhere in London, and England as a whole.”

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Women are urged to be breast aware and adopt the ‘TLC’ approach: Touch – feel for a lump or other changes, Look for changes in shape and texture, and Check with their GP if they find any changes. They could include:

Lump which may not be seen but can be felt

Changes in skin texture e.g. dimpling/puckering

Changes in appearance or direction of nipple

Nipple discharge

Rash or crusting

The visit was organised by Community Links with Frances Clarke, the project coordinator who knows from personal experience about the importance of catching cancer early. She said: “Luckily I caught the lump quite early, visited my GP straight away and I’ve been fortunate enough to make a full recovery.”